John V. VanHolt was one of original African-American Marines
The Montford Point Marine Association, Chapter 9, of Beaufort will posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal – the highest civilian award in the United States – to the family of John V. VanHolt in a ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14 at the Technical College of the Lowcountry auditorium.
VanHolt, who passed away in 2004, was one of the original African-Americans to enter the United States Marine Corp in 1943 and proudly served his country and Corps during World War II. His sister, Shirley VanHolt Norman, will receive the award prior to the Montford Point Marine Gospel Showcase program.
The award ceremony is open to all residents of Beaufort County and members of all veterans organizations. The history of the original Montford Point Marines will be addressed by Tyron Jackson, the president of the Beaufort Chapter.
The Montford Point Marines were the first African-Americans to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps after President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an Executive Order establishing the Fair Employment Practices Commission in June 1941.
The recruits trained at Camp Montford Point in Jacksonville, N.C. from August 26, 1942 until the camp was decommissioned on September 9, 1949. The largest number of black Marines to serve in combat during World War II took part in the seizure of Okinawa, with approximately 2,000 seeing action.